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Pediatric Asthma

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Summary

Asthma occurs when airways become swollen and inflamed, making it hard for a child to breathe.

Expanded Overview

Asthma occurs when airways become swollen and inflamed. Pediatric asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions. It doesn’t have a cure, but it can be managed effectively.

Certain environmental factors can act as a “trigger” for a person with asthma. The trigger causes muscles that wrap around the airways to tighten, making breathing harder. When triggered, the child will experience breathing problems, which is either called an asthma flare-up, asthma episode or an asthma attack.

Causes

Triggers of an asthma attack can include:

  • Airborne mold spores
  • Changing weather conditions
  • Cold air
  • Dust mites
  • Exercise
  • Furry animals
  • Pollen
  • Smoke
  • Viral infections
  • Stress
  • Viral infections

Babies are especially prone to food allergies that may trigger an asthma attack. Common food allergies in American children include the following:

  • Peanuts
  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans (and products made from them)
  • Tree nuts

Symptoms

Once a child experiences a flare-up, they are at a greater risk of having another episode for several days. Symptoms of a flare-up include:

  • Wheezing (whistling sound) when breathing
  • Coughing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Labored breathing
  • Complaints of chest hurting
  • Reduced energy
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Chest congestion
  • Trouble sleeping (due to the above symptoms)
  • Bronchitis that doesn't go away
  • Fatigue (due to lack of sleep)

Seek immediate care if your child:

  • Needs to stop mid sentence to catch her breath
  • Uses his abdominal muscles to breathe
  • Has nostrils that expand when she is breathing in
  • Has breathing that is so difficult his abdomen is “sucked” under his ribcage when he inhales

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